May 12, 2006

New York, NY – What do children need to grow and develop? How can their needs be met when parents work? A new book written by Dr. Jane Waldfogel, professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work, proposes a bold new plan to better meet the needs of children in working families, from birth through adolescence.

What Children Need draws on social science research to offer comprehensive answers and a vision for change. Based on the evidence, Dr. Waldfogel documents what children need at each stage of childhood and adolescence. She also considers whether current work and care arrangements are consistent with children’s needs and finds that, all too often, they are not because parents are being left to fend for themselves in a system where the quality of care is not what it should be.

“Just 30 years ago, the typical American child had a stay-at-home mother,” says Dr. Waldfogel. “Today, that situation is reversed: the typical child has a mother who is working, often starting in the first year of life. Yet, our policies have not kept pace.”

What Children Need provides a plan that, building on the evidence as well as core American values about parental choice, quality of care, and the work ethic, would better meet the need of children with working parents:

  • Allow parents more flexibility to take time off work for family responsibilities
  • Ensure continuity of essential family benefits such as health insurance
  • Give mothers and fathers more options to stay home in the first year of life;
  • Improve quality of care from infancy through the preschool years
  • Increase access to high-quality out-of-school programs for school-aged children and teenagers

What Children Need is available from the Harvard University Press for $35.00 (269 pages, ISBN 0-674-02212-2). For more information or to interview Dr. Waldfogel, please contact Jeannie Yip at 212-851-2327 or jy2223@columbia.edu.

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